A team of researchers at Rice University has developed a new technology that uses light-absorbing nanoparticles to convert solar energy directly into steam. Even though it is already significantly more efficient than solar panels at producing electricity, the technology will likely find its first applications in low-cost sanitation, water purification and human waste treatment for the developing world.
I'm confused as to what is so special about this? Still hooks up to a steam powered turbine, correct? So this material absorbs more light, thus heating it and turning water that goes through into steam?
Other potential uses could be powering hybrid air-conditioning and heating systems that run off of sunlight during the day and off of electricity at night. The system has also proved very promising in distilling water, with an experiment finding that the technology is about two and a half times more efficient than existing commercially available systems.
Originally posted by MESSAGEFROMTHESTARS
I'm confused as to what is so special about this?
Still hooks up to a steam powered turbine, correct?
So this material absorbs more light, thus heating it and turning water that goes through into steam?
The technology converts about 80 percent of the energy coming from the sun into steam. With the current iteration, passing the resulting steam to a turbine would generate electricity with an overall efficiency of 24 percent..
The UN came out over a decade ago with what they call a solar furnace that is cheap and easy to make. If directed at a boiler it will create very powerful steam which can be used with a car alternator to provide power or charge battery's. Easy enough to create your own power but it seems like few are interested.
I suppose that improved efficiency is one thing to be proud of, but these are not even milestones and every example of potential use, is basically obtainable by today's standard solar technology. This hasn't changed anything... and I wouldn't jump the steam power train, when it comes to this particular technology... considering the engineering required to actually accomplish anything of significance.
I'm pro-solar, by all means... I just don't see anything all that amazing about this, IMO.
I'm still waiting on my Archimedes tower of solar panels, or solar furnace to be erected in all major cities... lol. Which is kinda cool, because if you Google Archimedes tower, the MIT image actually directs you to this thread I created:
The salt melts at 131 °C (268 °F). It is kept liquid at 288 °C (550 °F) in an insulated "cold" storage tank. The liquid salt is pumped through panels in a solar collector where the focused sun heats it to 566 °C (1,051 °F). It is then sent to a hot storage tank. This is so well insulated that the thermal energy can be usefully stored for up to a week.
When electricity is needed, the hot salt is pumped to a conventional steam-generator to produce superheated steam for a turbine/generator as used in any conventional coal, oil or nuclear power plant. A 100-megawatt turbine would need a tank of about 30 feet (9.1 m) tall and 80 feet (24 m) in diameter to drive it for four hours by this design.
Several parabolic trough power plants in Spain and solar power tower developer SolarReserve use this thermal energy storage concept.